Every morning the first thing I do when I wake up is open my laptop and go straight to the BBC Football website. There I can get all the news of the day and the latest gossip and transfer rumours in the world of football. Now I am a massive football fan, I watch games from all over Europe and not just the big three leagues either. However my main obsession is with the English Premier League and for this in my opinion the coverage on BBC Sport is second to none. It may not have as many new articles every day and updated as regularly as Skysports.com but the quality is far superior.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in a comparison between the two websites’ video content. You would think with the massive money Sky pays to have the rights to Premier League football that their video content would be second to none but this isn’t the case.
Firstly with a much simpler, less cluttered and user friendly website, the videos on BBC Sport, all separately listed immediately grab your attention and you click on them. However with Sky Sports, all the video is in one window that shows you a freeze frame of one video for a few seconds before rolling to the next one. This means you have to wait to see screen shots of all the latest videos until you see one that interests you.
These days people don’t want to waste time sifting through everything available to get the content they want. They want to be able to overview it all and pick out their favourites.
Another bone of contention for me with Skysports.com is the bloody adverts on every single video! These are not just short 20-30 second adverts but usually a minute and twenty seconds long. That’s just plain ridiculous! I realize they must make money through advertising but must they really put an advert of over a minute on every video? I mean who even watches these adverts? If I click on a video and it has an advert before it I will usually just click away immediately. I will only stick with it if it’s a video I really want to see but then I will just mute the computer and look at another page until it’s finished. For me this is something Skysports.com really need to sort out, whether it’s feasible to move them elsewhere or cut them to less than twenty seconds I don’t know, but I do know that nobody clicks on a video to watch an advert.
What makes the BBC football video content so good is that it offers different types of video. For example the vast majority of video content on Skysports.com is mainly interviews with players and managers, and their press conferences. However on BBC they are more imaginative and offer a much wider variety of content.
Firstly what I really enjoy is Football Focus extra bits that lead up to the main programme on the weekend that often go behind the scenes at a football club and have expert opinion from their pundits. Moreover they try things out of the ordinary such as having David Cameron, Idris Elba and Kobe Bryant amongst others predicting the results of the weekend’s fixtures. (If you follow these links, you can see their predictions for yourself.)
Now don’t get me wrong, Sky Sports offers brilliant football coverage on TELEVISION. But they still have a lot to learn when it comes to online video, and they could do worse than taking a few tips from the Beeb.
UPDATE – After writing this blog and trying to embed my favourite BBC football videos on here, I found that the BBC won’t let you do that. Looks like their not so great after all! I was only able to embed the video above as it was on YouTube. It does illustrate my point quite well though; the BBC doing something different by taking us behind the scenes of one of Germany’s lesser well known clubs, Hoffenheim. However Skysports.com do let you embed their videos, it’s just a shame nobody would want to!
It’s not just the media that’s embracing cheaper forms of broadcasting video journalism content. There is a whole wave of new age charities embracing not only social media but also online video journalism, capitalising on the latest, cheapest broadcast platform.
Non-profit organizations have quickly cottoned onto the social media trend as a hugely beneficial tool for communicating their cause to anyone connected to the internet which is estimated to be 1,407,724,920 people or around 21% of the world’s population.
Not only have charity campaigns flooded social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, these organizations have increasingly embraced the use of online video journalism to advertise their campaigns in an extremely cost effective way.
Case Study 1: Oxfam
Oxfam has a section of its website devoted to campaign videos. Oxfam also has dedicated YouTube channels – Oxfam America and Oxfam Great Britain. Oxfam says that by letting people ‘see it, share it and change it’, they can help fight poverty and injustice by spreading the word using new media platforms. The channels feature videos about many of the charity’s different operations around the world. Check out this video below featuring a report on coffee giant Starbucks and its economic relationship with coffee farmers in Africa.
Case Study 2: Unicef
Unicef has a section of its website totally dedicated to blogs about their different campaigns. They also have a section just for Audio and Video. And of course they have a YouTube channel where Unicef TV is broadcast to its millions of viewers. Check out this report below on the increasing number of families crossing the border into Tunisia to escape the current crisis in Libya.
Case Study 3: Greenpeace
Greenpeace has a section of its website which showcases campaign promos, animations and video blogs. The organisation encourages other groups or individuals to spread the videos by embedding them on other websites. The channel has thousands of subscribers and has had over 13,850,000 channels views.
The video below is about a Chinese photographer Lu Guang. He documented the oil spill at the city of Dalian for Greenpeace. His pictures depict the death of firefighter Zhang Liang and won him a World Press Photo award in 2011. The online videos Greenpeace produces are of high quality both technically and journalistically, often covering very newsworthy stories from the corners of the globe.
Given that large charities such as the NSPCC spends millions on advertising on TV, it’s more than likely they will increasingly rely on the internet as a cheaper, faster and in some cases more accessibly media platform.
Whatever your interests, you can use online video to cover pretty much whatever you like – whether you want to cover hard news or light entertainment. Here’s a few tips on how to find stories that you could shoot in order to make a video for online:
- Talk To People:
Are there any local issues affecting you, your friends or your family? Maybe there’s a new parking scheme that is causing a stir in the neighbourhood, or there might be a new shop opening or closing in your street which residents are unhappy about.
Asking people around you what’s going on may throw up an issue or an event that you could make a video about. Below is an example of a video I made about the student accommodation I live in and the problem of constant fire alarms being set off by students.
- Use Social Media:
Social media sites are a great way of finding stories –
1) Twitter: Twitter is a great communications and search tool. You can search for tweets that relate to what you’re looking for – for instance, a local area or an event (you could search ‘Islington’). This would bring up search results of various twitter feeds. Some feeds are dedicated to news solely about a certain place which can be very useful if you are covering a ‘patch’. Using hash tags (#) by placing them in front of key words is another good way of finding information. For more detailed information on how to use Twitter to your advantage, see one of our earlier posts by Will Teddy on Twitter and its Role in Video Journalism. Below is a news package Will Teddy and I made after finding the story on Twitter.
2) Facebook: Similarly you can also use Facebook (as well as Twitter) as a communications tool between yourself and people involved with stories you might want to cover. By searching for a person, an event or an organization you may find there is a ‘page’ or ‘group’ dedicated to this subject.
3) Forums/Blogs: Online communities (like this one!) are sites serving localities or online communities usually dedicated to a particular subject or range of subjects. They are very useful for contacting like-minded people and accessing and sharing relevant information. It was on one of these sites that my colleague and I discovered a story about a library under threat of closure.
- FOI requests: If you wanted information about a public service you can submit a Freedom of Information request. By law, the orgainsation is obliged to give you the information except in cases which may endanger national security. For instance, if you wanted to know how much your local council spends on hospitality or even on its Christmas party you could submit a request online. This can bring new information into the public domain which could be worth covering.
- Events: Whilst they’re not a scoop, events are worth covering in their own right. For instance, you could cover a protest or a local concert. Below is a video about an event I covered with my colleague Jonross Swaby. We found an advert for a talent show being held by a mental health charity in aid of mental health month in a local newspaper.
- Travel Blogs: Going on an expedition during your gap year? Going away with the kids this summer? Whatever you have planned, filming what you get up to when you travel can be a great way of getting footage and documenting the experience in the form of a video for online journalism. Below is an example of an informal video I made for online using footage shot by a friend during our time abroad on work placements.
- Existing media news sites: Whilst any good journalist comes up with original stories, you can often find stories already covered in the press which you may be able to develop or look at from an angle not already covered. For instance, a story may be published about a new scheme where drivers can pay their parking by text – but the story doesn’t say how much the scheme is costing the local council. By finding out the financial implications you have developed the story in an original way and could cover it differently to the previous reporter. The BBC has a great page which gives links to all parts of the UK, as you can see from the screen shot below:
If you click through from the map page onto a particular region, for example, London, you can access a list of external news sites that cover that same area. You can see form the screen shot below that it gives a comprehensive list of online media outlets including newspapers and radio stations.
- Local Authorities: Whilst we mustn’t forget council’s in the UK are political bodies and often have an axe to grind, they can still be a great source of stories. Press releases are published online, and you can contact press officers to ask about particular stories or for information or for interviews with councillors. You can find an A to Z list of councils across the UK by going to the Direct.gov.uk website.
Good luck story hunting!
According to a study of 100 US newspapers undertaken by the Associated Press, a large number of them are cutting back on video and video journalists. As the current financial climate continues to bite hard at newspapers, it is often the video that is first to go.
Kevin Roach, Director of US Broadcast News at AP led and the study and found that financial reasons were often the main factor in the decision to cutback but he wouldn’t disclose the specific findings of the study.
He is of the opinion that newspapers should stick with their online video content as he believes it provides an important part of editorial output. He also thinks that there are new opportunities emerging for these newspapers in how people consume their content, e.g. through social media and new devices such as tablets.
He suggests papers must publish breaking news of local interest quickly in order for their videos to be effective. With the change to the web that social media has brought, getting news up quickly is essential.
Below is Beet TV’s interview with Kevin Roach.
However as others have been cutting back, the Miami Herald has been reaping the rewards of increased investment in its video content. Last year, MiamiHerald.com saw about a 25 percent growth in video traffic, making it the second biggest traffic driver behind articles.
They found over a period of study of six years that the most popular videos were sports and breaking news. These were already strong points at the Herald but with further investment and improvement they were able to build up a loyal audience.
The Herald uploads on average 60 to 80 videos a month and has partnered with Miami TV stations including WSFL-TV and CBS 4 in Miami to try to extend its reach. They share content with WSFL and cross promote content with CBS 4 which helps to increase the site’s traffic. The Herald also posts many of its videos to YouTube where they can get thousands more hits than on MiamiHerald.com and thus further increase it’s reach.
So if more newspapers could follow the Herald’s example of investing more in video then perhaps they too would experience similar success and not have to cut back on a vital component of news.
Below is a video from the Miami Herald, which I believe illustrates well what they are trying to provide: breaking news of local interest. It also shows the advantage of using video over simply just print, seeing pictures of the dogs elicits more emotion in us and gets us to engage more fully with the story than just an article could.
VBS.TV is an online TV network that streams a variety of news, music, pop culture and current affairs videos. It was launched in 2007 by New York based media conglomerate Vice, in collaboration with MTV. The site is co-managed by creative director Spike Jonze, the Oscar nominated filmmaker whose credits include Being John Malkovich.
This online TV network is unusual. It targets a younger demographic of 18-24 year olds and offers more diverse content in terms of news and current affairs. It attempts to and succeeds in offering an alternative to the ‘dumbed down’ mainstream televisual programming so often focussed on celebrity culture. The site capitalises on far lower set-up costs and the knowledge that online plays such an important role in the lives of those fitting into this demographic. Confident that many of the younger generation are bored with Heat, Nuts and Paris Hilton, the site produces videos that offer a deeper look into important issues, formed as a result of their counter-culture philosophy.
VBS.TV has gained a strong following and industry recognition. VBS.TV online videos are featured on various other sites including YouTube and Vimeo. VBS online video documentaries have also been featured on CNN – the media organisation said they were ‘intrigued’ by the journalism and unique reporting approach of VBS. One video featured by CNN is an online video documentary about a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan that has attracted hundreds to go there to commit suicide, and explores the pressures on people in modern Japan.
The videos have a transparent approach to them where the viewer is taken on every step of the reporting process. The site is wholly advertiser-funded and content is free to access. Many contributors and freelancers produce videos for the site. Whilst you’ll still find stories about sex, drugs and rock and roll, you’ll also find reports on the war on terror, and North Korean refugees. Below are some of my top pics:
- A half hour documentary on the student protests over rising tuition fees and the scrapping of EMA entitled Teenage Riot. You can watch the video on VBS.TV by using this link: Teenage Riot.
- A video which typifies what VBS is about called Heavy Metal in Baghdad, which is a unique documentary about the fortunes of Acrassicauda, Iraq’s only heavy metal band which formed during the final years of Saddam Hussein’s rule. They were only allowed to play if they included a pro-Saddam song in each set. The film provides an insight into the life of young people in modern day Iraq, and gives a fresh angle on a major world news story unexplored by the mainstream press.
- Swansea Love Story – this is a moving and saddening documentary about heroin addiction filmed in the vein of gritty realism. Reporter involvement (RI) is extremely limited, even at times when the viewer is screaming at the reporter to intervene. The production of the piece achieved interesting and thought provoking shots by filming contrasting sequences of the main subjects with wide shots of the desolate Swansea landscape and also with shots of the local church choir which adds another layer to the film. You can watch part on on YouTube below:
The Young Turks (TYT) is a new media talk show that covers news, politics, pop culture and lifestyle. It started as a talk show on Sirus Satellite Radio in the US in 2002 and then with the launch of YouTube in 2005 it soon became a successful webcast with one of the largest and most viewed channels on YouTube.
The host is Cenk Uygur, a regular contributor to MSNBC and the Huffington Post. In an interview with the Guardian last year, he told them that he wants to start a real political revolution in the US. The Young Turks itself is apart of a media revolution that Uygur hopes will replace traditional television. It has on average over 13 million viewers a month, with the majority coming from the US, Canada and the UK.
Uygur conceived TYT because he believes that eventually online TV will overtake regular programming and that American’s have a deficiency of real public service journalism. “We’re looking for journalism in all the wrong places. What’s the last story anyone on television in America broke?”
Uygur decided to turn down a $250,000 radio-only deal and TYT became the first daily streaming online talk show. It earned 30,000 viewers in its first month; by February of last year it had reached more than 200m views on YouTube. “Before if you got on CNN or ABC in America that was huge and that was the best thing, if you were a cable station it was great – they always bragged about ‘Oh, we’re in 72m homes’. Now I think, so what? YouTube is in every home.”
With just six other full-time members of staff and a monthly budget of just $45,000, the success of TYT has been quite remarkable. They make their money through sponsorship, subscriptions and YouTube revenue sharing. It has no advertising budget, the viewers provide the publicity by sharing links and clips on social networking sites. This is like word of mouth to the masses.
TYT keeps up with the US network programming by being able to book a wide variety of guests because of its ever-increasing popularity. As it has no higher up television executives telling them what to do or which guests to give an easy ride, they are able to ask what the public really wants to know. Needless to say this has upset a few people. “I heard from [US Senate majority leader] Harry Reid’s office, after his interview, that we were effectively blacklisted for future interview requests. I didn’t really shed a tear. We’re gonna be all right.”
The TYT has also been recognized by its peers for the sterling work that they do. They beat both the BBC and Rush Limbaugh, the leading talk radio host, to win Best Political Podcast 2009 at the Podcast Awards and Best Political News Site 2009 at the Mashable Awards.
According to Uygur this is just rewards for all the hard work he and his team have put it. “We worked really hard at getting all the details right. Whether it’s the tagging of the video or the thumbnail [image] … What ultimately mattered most was that we were delivering something the American media wasn’t. The American media is delivering nothing but fakeness,”
If all online video journalism could aspire to the standards of TYT then perhaps Uygur is right and traditional television may soon become obsolete.
Kevin Sites in Nepal, South East Asia
Image sourced from unitedweblog.files.wordpress.com
Kevin Sites helped innovate online video journalism. He is known as the ‘grandaddy’ of backpack journalists. He was one of the first to pave the way for independent, intrepid reporters carrying portable technology on their backs to single-handedly shoot, write, edit and transmit multimedia reports from some of the world’s most dangerous places.
Sites began his career as a reporter/producer for various American news outlets including ABC, NBC and CNN. Sites’ work provoked controversy in 2004 when he filmed a US marine shooting a wounded Iraqi insurgent in the head in a Falluja mosque. Whilst some were critical of Sites’ decision to film the shooting, he was praised by journalists for exposing the true realities of war through online video journalism.
Below is YouTube footage of Sites’ video on the Faluja mosque shooting. Warning – graphic content, viewer discretion advised.
In 2005, Sites left the TV networks and switched to online journalism. He was hired by Yahoo! as its first Yahoo! News correspondent and embarked on a year-long journey, travelling to all the major war zones around the world, reporting for his website ‘Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone’. According to his website his mission was “to cover every armed conflict in the world within one year, and in doing so to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles – and their global impact.” This mission was all the more impressive given Sites worked alone. Although this was only six years ago, Sites’ expedition epitomises the trend away from well-resourced camera and production crews, and instead towards multi-skilled one-man-bands in the world of news and current affairs. His project was unique in the way it presented stories through mixed media including photographs, videos and written reports.
Sites’ ‘Hot Zone’ project saw him visit nearly every region of the world including the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, Central Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. His reports helped galvanise the notion of the modern media correspondent without a crew to support them. The real essence of Sites’ work was his focus on the reality of war zones and the stories undiscovered by mainstream media. During his trip, he spent time with Maoist rebels in Nepal during its long-running civil war – which finally resulted in a revolution and the installation of a democratically elected government, and a new constitution in 2006.
Sites photographing a Maoist guerrilla in Kailali, Western Nepal. The anti-government protestors – largely made up of the People’s Liberation Army – had many women enlisted, and were thought of by their male colleagues as some of the fiercest fighters.
Image sourced from asiamedia.ucla.edu
Below is a YouTube clip of Sites’ video made in Nepal and Kashmir. Warning – graphic content, viewer discretion advised.
Whilst his videos can be gruesome and saddening, he is widely recognised as a brave journalist willing to reveal the true atrocities of war. Sites’ contribution to online video journalism and to the exposure of the realities of war was recognised widely within the profession. In 2005 he won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism and was nominated for an Emmy. In 2006 the LA Press Club awarded him with the esteemed Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, and in 2007 Forbes Magazine listed him as one of the ‘Web Celeb 25’, calling him one of “the biggest, brightest and most influential people on the web.” The same year, he won the Webby Award for coverage of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.
Sites grew up in Ohio and currently lives in California. He continues to work as a solo-journalist or ‘SoJo’.